There are draft grades and draft graders. Draft grades are premature and draft graders are football’s version of Nostradamus, taking educated guesses and incomplete information, attempting to grade today by acting like they know what tomorrow holds.
Then, there is the 2015 NFL draft and your Dallas Cowboys. Draft grades be damned. The Cowboys blew the curve. After years of absorbing ridicule for not being a real football man, Jerry Jones has surrounded himself with football guys like Jason Garrett and Will McClay. And…he’s listening to them. Like last year, when he resisted the urge to land Johnny Football and instead nabbed the best offensive lineman in the draft.
This year, with no pick until number 27, the Cowboys landed three top 25 prospects…and one of them they didn’t even have to spend a draft pick to get! Two of these prospects made several top 10 lists, with one considered the best offensive lineman in the draft and the other the best pass rusher. Enter a little weed and a weird twist of murder and intrigue and those two guys plummeted…and landed in Dallas.
The Cowboys’ first pick was Byron Jones, defensive back from UConn. He is 6’1, 199 pounds, can play cornerback and safety. He is also, because of his performance at the NFL Combine, a world record holder in the standing broad jump when he launched himself 12’3″. He then flew upwards with a vertical of better than 44″. He followed that with a Pro Day 40-yard dash time of 4.4 seconds.
But Jones is the lowest ranked of the Cowboys big three rookie fish.
DE Randy Gregory, taken in the second round with the 60th pick overall, fell out of the top of the first round because he tested positive for Marijuana at the Combine. Stupid. Really, really stupid stunt. But stupid Gregory is not. He is well-spoken, intelligent, and seems determined to prove he is what we thought he was before that unfortunate drug test.
This from the widely-read Blogging the Boys:
DE Randy Gregory, Round 2 (No. 60 overall) Yes, Gregory enters the NFL already in the first stage of the league’s substance abuse program, and the bust potential here is high. But the upside is unparalleled for the price — Gregory could prove to be the best pass rusher in the entire draft, an elite talent who could make a major impact on a team already of playoff quality. Sure, Dallas could have gone with a safer pick, but the outcome of a second-rounder isn’t going to break this franchise.
Then, there is the weird, weird case of undrafted free agent rookie La’el Collins. The LSU product, an offensive tackle, was widely believed to be the best offensive lineman in the entire draft. Then, his former girlfriend was murdered. She was pregnant and the police wanted to talk to Collins as a person of interest. By the time the police learned through DNA samples that Collins was not the father and had nothing to do with the poor girl’s murder, the draft was too far gone for Collins to be picked. Nobody took a flier on him.
When the draft was over, however, several teams scrambled to sign Collins. Jerry got him to Dallas; hosted him at his own mansion, solicited Cowboys players like Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten to talk to him; brought Collins’ mom in and had a nice cry with her over the hard times they had just been through; got Jason Garrett involved; and signed the most unlikely rookie free agent deal ever.
Coming off a strong season and a decent playoff run, landing these rookies and Greg Hardy, the Cowboys look locked and loaded for 2015.
They also look to have blown the curve for draft graders everywhere.
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